If you have children or grandchildren under ten years old and you are committed to teaching them God’s Word, you probably have a collection of children’s storybook Bibles. In 2019, B&H Publishing released a storybook Bible by Jennifer Lyell and it has quickly become one of our family’s favorites.1
A Heart Focus
In addition to the thematic thread of God’s promises throughout the Bible, the author often focuses on the differences between a hard heart and a soft heart towards God, beginning with Adam and Eve after the Fall. Instead of making moralistic applications—“be brave and courageous like Daniel and David”— the author hopes that the emphasis on the heart will “plant the seed against legalism.”2
There are many ways to explain salvation and gospel transformation to your kids, but in our home, we try to emphasize our kids’ need for a new, soft heart that only God can give. In the story titled “I Promise to Suffer” from Isaiah 53—a section of the Bible not regularly covered in children’s storybooks—the author concludes, “The whole Bible shows us that God keeps His promises and that those promises are possible because God came to suffer—all so we can be free from the punishment of sin and instead have hearts that love God!” (pg. 141)
A Helpful Format
The book is divided into 52 Bible stories that cover the promises of God throughout the Old and New Testaments. Each story includes a title and brief sentence explaining the significance of that promise. For example, “The Passover Promise: God will save His people through the blood of a spotless lamb.” The illustrations are beautiful and not childish or cartoonish. Having been to the Holy Land, I was glad to see the accurate depiction of Israel’s arid, desert landscape in many of the illustrations.
You may be surprised to find that many well-known Bible stories aren’t included in this storybook (e.g. David, Samson, Daniel, etc.). Instead of covering the periods of the judges and the kings in Israel, a few stories are dedicated to the prophets during that time, including Isaiah and Jeremiah. In addition, this book differs from most storybooks in that it spends seven stories focusing on Paul’s letters to various churches (Thessalonians, Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians).
The book is designed to be read to 4–8 year old’s but the author does not shy away from complex topics like the trinity and even the Old Testament sacrificial system! When more unfamiliar words are used, the author provides a definition (e.g. “a plague is a really bad situation that overtakes a lot of people”). A few times while reading, I paused to explain something to my boys only to discover that the very next few sentences provided a clear explanation.
Another very helpful feature is the four review questions found at the end of each story. Most of these questions are simple observation questions (e.g. “What did God tell Abram and Sarai to do at the beginning of the story?”). However, sometimes one of the four questions will be directed towards the reader (e.g. “If God told you to go on a trip and leave your home, what would you take with you?”).
A Tragic Backstory
The author, Jennifer, has a very close relationship with her local church family and has served as a Sunday School teacher for many years.3
The book dedication reads, “in loving memory and honor of Job Wilson Kemp to whom God is keeping all His promises.” Job was one of Jennifer’s inquisitive 4-year-old Sunday School students who tragically died just 13 months after finishing her class. At his memorial service as Job’s dad read Psalms 103 and blessed the Lord, Jennifer suddenly thought, “God’s promises are real. God’s promises are what establish us. God’s promises sustain us. I need to write the book.”4
If you are looking for a children’s Bible storybook that is “conversational, whimsical, and biblically faithful,” consider adding The Promises of God Storybook Bible to your rotation of family devotion Bibles.
This valuable experience as a Sunday School teacher has resulted in a very “easy-to-teach” writing style. In fact, the 52-story format is probably designed with a Sunday School teacher’s use in mind. ↩︎